Alternative Treatments for Pulmonary Fibrosis

Medicinal mushrooms, acupuncture, and meditation may offer relief

Pulmonary fibrosis is a condition marked by thickening and scarring of tissue deep in your lungs. It also may result in inflammation and scarring in your air sacs and their supporting structures.

If the scarring progresses, it may lead to breathing difficulties and/or impair your lungs' ability to deliver oxygen to your bloodstream. This can keep your internal organs from getting the oxygen they need to function properly.

man being examined with stethescope
Hero Images

Alternative Medicine to Manage Pulmonary Fibrosis

Very few scientific studies have explored the use of alternative medicine in the treatment of pulmonary fibrosis. However, the following natural remedies and alternative therapies may be useful for individuals coping with pulmonary fibrosis.

Medicinal Mushrooms

In a 2011 study, scientists discovered that in two different groups who took Cordyceps sinensis (a medicinal mushroom)—one took the mushrooms alone, and the other took the mushrooms with induced pluripotent stem cells—both experienced higher immunomodulatory gene expression as compared to a control group.

It's important to note that these findings are preliminary. If you're interested in using medicinal mushrooms in the management of pulmonary fibrosis, it's critical to consult your physician rather than attempting to self-treat your condition.

Mind-Body Stress Relief

For help in coping with the stress of pulmonary fibrosis—including anxiety, loss of confidence, and lower quality of life—calming mind-body practices have been shown to provide tangible benefits.

A one-year observational study of people with interstitial lung diseases—which can lead to pulmonary fibrosis—found that a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program has the potential to improve mood and stress with a lasting effect. MSBR techniques used in the study include body scans, meditation, and gentle yoga.

Natural Remedies to Quit Smoking

Smoking cessation is key to coping with any lung disease. If you smoke, look to alternative therapies like acupuncture and hypnosis for help in quitting. There also drug therapies, such as Chantix, and 12-step programs available to support smoking cessation.

Risk Factors

In many cases, doctors are unable to determine the cause of pulmonary fibrosis. However, certain factors are thought to increase your risk of the disease. The condition typically affects men over the age of 50 more than women, and other factors include:

  • Exposure to environmental pollutants (such as certain fumes and hard metal dusts)
  • Viral infections (including hepatitis C and Epstein-Barr)
  • Use of certain medications (including some antibiotics used to treat urinary tract infectionsulcerative colitis, and rheumatoid arthritis)
  • Undergoing chemotherapy
  • GERD
  • Smoking (cigarettes, cigars, cannabis, vaping)


Pulmonary fibrosis symptoms tend to develop over time and progressively worsen. They may include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • A dry, hacking cough that doesn't subside over time
  • Rapid, shallow breathing
  • Gradual, unintended weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Aching muscles and joints
  • Widening and rounding of the tips of the fingers and/or toes


Although there's no way to reverse the scarring that has already occurred, certain treatments—including medication, pulmonary rehabilitation, and surgery—may help prevent further damage, ease symptoms, and improve quality of life for people with pulmonary fibrosis.

Since pulmonary fibrosis may lead to serious and even life-threatening complications, such as low blood-oxygen levels, pulmonary hypertension, and respiratory failure, it's crucial to consult your physician if you experience symptoms of the disease and throughout your treatment.

A Word From Verywell

Due to the limited research, it's too soon to recommend alternative medicine for pulmonary fibrosis. It's also important to note that self-treating a condition and avoiding or delaying standard care may have serious consequences. If you're considering using alternative medicine for pulmonary fibrosis (or any other health purpose), make sure to consult your physician first.

4 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Wang J, Peng J, Wang Y, Shao M, Qian F. Bioinformatics study on the effect of cordyceps sinensis combined with pluripotent stem cell for pulmonary fibrosisJournal of Medical Imaging and Health Informatics. 2018;8(6):1126-1130. doi:10.1166/jmihi.2018.2440

  2. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Complementary health approaches for smoking cessation: what the science says.

  3. Genetics Home Reference. Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. U.S. National Library of Medicine.

  4. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.

By Cathy Wong
Cathy Wong is a nutritionist and wellness expert. Her work is regularly featured in media such as First For Women, Woman's World, and Natural Health.